Despite a vow of transparency, it took Russian hackers, Wikileaks, and Freedom of Information lawsuits to reveal that Catholics made the list of Clinton deplorables.
Breakfast in my current locale requires being up, dressed, and ready for a hike outside at 5:15 AM to stand in line for a slab of “breakfast cake,” or some other dose of fat and sugar. Some prisoners can return to climb back into their bunks for another 90 minutes of sleep, but I cannot. So like half the prisoners here, I purchase my own breakfast once a week in the commissary. Even there, the choices are limited: sugary cereal, snack cakes, plain instant oatmeal, or peanut butter and crackers. I opt for the peanut butter and crackers, and have had that same boring breakfast seven days a week for 23 years.
Last week while standing in line at the commissary, a newer prisoner stepped up to hold my net bag open for me. “You must like peanut butter and crackers,” he said. There was no point explaining what he will eventually comprehend on his own: that “Like” doesn’t even enter into the equation here. Breakfast is a necessity, and there is simply no other viable choice.
That sums up perfectly the state of affairs in America. Eighty percent of TSW readers are in the United States, so to not comment on the outrageous media frenzy going on this week and next is to ignore the elephant stampede in the room. (Please note that “elephant stampede”does not imply endorsement of a political party. “Gerbil stampede” just didn’t work out.)
But what is equally outrageous is the suggestion that unmasking a hidden truth about one candidate’s mindset is an endorsement of the other. The reality that the choices are limited is lost on some people. So let’s be clear. I do not like Donald Trump. Who could? Narcissistic personalities are not generally the people I choose as friends. But should they merit a vote? Now we’re back to my breakfast options.
I live in a place where there are only men, the vast majority being men in their twenties and thirties, and the vast majority of them being “men” in a looser sense, with developmental ages hovering somewhere between early and mid-adolescence. Not many of these guys would want to be forever known for the unscripted conversations I have become so accustomed to simply ignoring. When I get to know them better as individuals, I challenge them sometimes. “Do you really believe what you just said about women?” First, I get a puzzled look, then a subdued response. “Nah, it’s just BS.”
“Should Christians Vote for Trump’” I don’t have an answer to that, but it was the title of a masterful reflection by Eric Metaxas in The Wall Street Journal (October 13, 2016). I profiled some of the work of Eric Metaxas in a post last year entitled, “Science Makes a Case for God and Respect for Life.” In his WSJ article, Mr. Metaxas makes a compelling case for applying Christianity and the convictions of two Christian heroes – William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer – to the current American political landscape. If you cannot access it from our link, try searching the title in quotes. For some relief from this toxic election, it’s worth the effort.
Some TSW readers know that I was drafted to serve on a small committee that negotiates with the prison administration over prison conditions and prisoners’ rights. There are various subcommittees in which prisoners can volunteer to help create working agendas on everything from education availability to living conditions.
I was recently appointed to an interview committee of three to screen potential candidates for the subcommittees. If I sprung upon them in these interviews some of the “just BS” I have heard from them in the past, it is I, and not they, who would be bounced from this process. Holier-than-thou self-righteous Victorian attitudes and “gotcha” politics do not play out very well here.
After a recent hour watching CNN, however, they seem to be politics-as-usual out there. And that’s the problem. It’s the politics-as-usual that created Trump, and that half the country has rebelled against. One of the finer commentaries on all this came from a media figure whose views I respect. What follows is an excerpt from author and columnist, Heather MacDonald who wrote “Trumped-Up Outrage” on the City Journal website (October 9, 2016):
“The sudden onset of Victorian vapors among the liberal intelligentsia and political class at the revelation of Trump’s locker-room talk is part and parcel of the Left’s hypocrisy when it comes to feminism and sexual liberation…. It is particularly galling to see the selective resurrection of Victorian values from the same crowd that has been pushing transgender locker rooms on the world…”
VLADIMIR PUTIN SPEAKS TO AMERICAN VOTERS
I think Ms. MacDonald nailed it. But it’s the other scandal that I want to write about, the one you have to really dig for to find any reference to in most of the mainstream news media while it’s fixated upon the latest finger pointing at Trump.
There’s a knee-jerk smoke screen that rises up over the mere mention of this story. “The Russians hacked these e-mail accounts!” It manipulatively calls upon the citizens on the right to recall the Cold War, and to shift their outrage, not at what was revealed in these missives, but at how they were obtained.
This is logic that I hear a lot in my current location. “The police who knocked on the wrong door for a noise complaint had no business noticing the meth lab in my living room.” Vladimir Putin – who seems to lack much in the way of respect for the current presidential administration – said that we should be a lot more concerned with what these emails reveal than in how they were revealed. Our President shot back that entities in Russia are trying to influence an American election.
Perhaps President Obama forgot about his speech in London earlier this year when he urged the British to vote against Brexit, or Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s unprecedented speech before Congress urging America to think twice about an Iranian nuclear deal that our president was pushing. We can only imagine, what Mr. Netanyahu thought about the planeload of cash ($1.5 billion) sent to Iran bearing a striking resemblance to ransom.
If Russian hackers really did obtain otherwise deleted emails released by Wikileaks, it is not entirely clear whether they were acting as the enemies or the allies of American citizens. We have to depend on hackers and Wikileaks for the transparency our government has pledged to us. In “America’s Decadent Leadership Class” (Oct. 15, 2016) Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan raised a possibility more ominous for US:
“If Russia is indeed behind the leaks of the emails of Democratic Party operatives, Mr. Putin may have many reasons, as he often does, but the most frightening would be that he views the current American political leadership as utterly decadent. Why would he find them decadent – morally hollowed out? That is the terrible part: because he knows them.”
Vladimir Putin is right about one thing.. The content of these emails is alarming for anyone concerned with religious liberty. The content is also infuriating, and for its impact on the cause of freedom, it is far more urgent than Donald Trump’s obnoxious behavior that has become a media smoke screen for the real issues in this election.
CATHOLICS IN THE BASKET OF DEPLORABLES
Among the leaked emails is one from John Halpin of the Center for American Progress, a leftist think tank. Setting off a chain reaction of anti-Catholic slurs, he wrote to senior Clinton campaign officials John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri. Mr. Halpin noted a media report that Wall Street Journal publisher Rupert Murdoch and then-managing editor Robert Thompson “are raising their kids Catholic.”
“Friggin Murdoch,” Mr. Halpin’s message continued, “baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.” Then he added:
“Many of the most powerful elements in the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC [Supreme court] and think tanks to the media and social groups… They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations.”
Sincerity of belief and the power of conversion could not possibly even enter into the equation for these people. For them, to embrace Catholic faith could have nothing more than a shallow political motive. In another message to Clinton campaign official Jennifer Palmieri, Halpin’s tirade continued:
“They [the deplorable Catholics] can throw around Thomistic thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they are talking about.”
This picture gives me a newfound respect for other political and media figures who embraced Catholicism knowing what their leftist counterparts will think of them. Shortly before he stepped down as Speaker of the House and announced his decision not to seek reelection, John Boehner was quietly received into the Catholic Church. And more recently, so was Sohrab Ahmari, political author and The Wall Street Journal’s London based editorial writer. Jennifer Palmieri responded to Mr. Halpin with a display of open contempt for such conversions:
“I imagine they think [Catholicism] is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
The mere fact that this discussion even took place is alarming. There’s an underlying (“underhanded” is a better word) pattern revealing one of the oldest prejudices in American history. Merely “being” Catholic and self-identifying as such is itself a suspect act, evoking in the hearer an allegiance to some Authority other than the acceptable dogma of a new world order. It is here expressed in Mr. Halpin’s charge that Catholics who adhere to faith exhibit “severely backwards gender relations.”
That last point is especially hypocritical. If you publicly question the tenets of Islam on the topic of gender relations, you will be branded as insensitive and intolerant by the very same people who are here branding your faith as “backwards.” You will be doubly in that basket of deplorables. To question Islam makes you Islamophobic. If you’re not on board with gender identity or the newest Obama obsession with transgender bathrooms, then you are homophobic. If you doubt Hillary, or Obama himself, you’re sexist or racist. If you question open borders, you’re xenophobic. And if you are faithfully Catholic you are “severely backward.”
These are the heretics in the new religion and its jealous god called “social progress.” Anyone who doesn’t toe this dogmatic line is deplorable. The Little Sisters of the Poor, who fought to defend religious liberty, are especially deplorable.
JOHN PODESTA AND THE “CATHOLIC SPRING”
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta professes to be Catholic, but his response to another email is the most telling of all. Here is an excerpt of an email sent to him by Sandy Newman, the non-Catholic founder and president of the liberal political group, “Voices for Progress”:
“There needs to be a Catholic Spring in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.”
Mr. Podesta’s response was a gutless letdown for any faithful Catholic. Instead of representing the teachings of his professed faith, he threw all but the most leftist Catholics back into the basket of deplorables. He assures the writer that the Catholic Spring he calls for is on the front burner:
“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this… Likewise, Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up.”
So who funds this “Catholic Spring?” The October 2016 issue of the Catholic League Journal, Catalyst, was published before the Wikileaks emails emerged. It has an editorial by CL President Bill Donohue entitled “Soros-Funded Catholic Left is Dishonest.” Unaware of these anti-Catholic emails, Donohue writes:
“I am speaking about activist groups that claim to be Catholic yet receive a large share of their funding from forces that are manifestly hostile to Catholicism. This is certainly the case with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good… a front for George Soros, the billionaire who supports abortion-on-demand and other public policy initiatives that are anathema to the Catholic Church… Soros has funded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Catholic Alliance through his Foundation to Promote Open Society Institute.”
Catholic Alliance went on to sponsor a group called “Call to Disobedience” to promote Catholic acceptance of abortion as a “reproductive right,” same-sex marriage, women’s ordination, and open rejection of Catholic moral teaching on sexuality. Other promoters of “Call to Disobedience” include the dissident groups Call to Action, Catholics for Choice, DignityUSA, FutureChurch, Women’s Ordination Conference, and – no surprise here – Voice of the Faithful.
The anti-Catholic bigotry expressed in the Wikileaks Clinton campaign emails is disturbing, but moreso because too many Catholics are not disturbed at all. Many have quietly joined the majority ranks of the most destructive force in American history – a force I have written of before on These Stone Walls: the noise of a few and the silence of many. The silent many have grown content with merely wanting their government to take care of things, to take care of them – even at the expense of their human dignity; even at the expense of their souls.
If anything in this post has awakened in you a resolve not to stay passively in that basket of deplorables, share it with someone, post it, spread it around, help people think this through. And whatever happens on November 8 your vote counts at the very least as an expression of your own soul. Pray before you vote, and please don’t skip either.
“Whatever one’s personal opinion of Catholicism (I am not Catholic), the Church remains a bulwark against Western secularization and the growing culture of choice… One may make painful personal choices as the law permits, but even non-Catholics can find solace in the barricade that men and women of conscience erect between human beings and the abyss of relativism. If the church means nothing to some, it is at least a welcome noisemaker in the public square, fearless in making the argument that life does matter.” (Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker writing in the Dallas Morning News, March 13, 2013).
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